Keeping Christmas Simple

Amish Holidays, Contest Comments: 13

Nativity Christmas ornaments on gold.
I believe that one reason Amish fiction is so popular is that we all long for simpler times.

For me, that’s especially true during the holidays. I enjoy being “out and about” to celebrate the season, but not if there’s a large crowd. And my heart longs to spend time at home, curled up in front of the fire with my family. So what can we learn from the Amish about Christmas preparation?

  • People over things. During the weeks before Christmas, there’s a lot to get done. But maybe not all of that “stuff” has to be done. If you have a choice between rushing around decorating or shopping…vs spending time with a friend/family member, choose the second.
  • Don’t overspend. Culture teaches us that we can make our loved ones happy if we just find the perfect gift, but is that true? Gifts are symbolic of how much we care for someone, and there are other ways we can show we care.
  • Take time for the spiritual. This is a holy season, but often things related to our faith get pushed to the back burner in the rush and worry of Christmas. This year take time to attend a local service, read the Christmas story from your Bible, and pray.
  • Surprise someone. So much of what we love about the holiday is seeing joy in someone else’s eyes and feeling like we brightened their world. Reach out to a neighbor, an elderly person from your church, or a struggling young family. This doesn’t have to cost money. You can bake a plate of cookies.
  • Rest. Too often when the holidays are over we find ourselves exhausted and depressed. This year vow to take care of yourself, to rest when you need rest, to curl up in front of the fire when you need peace, and to take care of yourself physically by eating right and exercising.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us a way that you have learned to simplify the celebration of Christmas.

Blessings,

V

Announcements for this week:

  • My short story, Christmas at Pebble Creek, is free on all e-readers. If you haven’t read it, please give it a try!
  • A Simple Amish Christmas and The Christmas Quilt are now available in paperback, ebook, and audio book (including Audible.com). A Simple Amish Christmas was my first Amish book and one that is still special to me.
  • Quite a few of my books are currently on sale in both paperback and ebook. You can visit my author page at AmazonB&N, and CBD for details.
  • I’m participating in the Amish Wisdom giveaway. You could win a copy of Sarah’s OrphansCheck it out here.

Amish Holidays

Amish facts/history, Amish Holidays

amish-buggyOne of the most frequent questions I get is: How do the Amish celebrate holidays?

The short answer is “it depends.” Different communities celebrate different ways. Each family has their own traditions. But there are some common things that you’ll find in an Amish home if you were to stop by on Thanksgiving:

  • The meal will be a potluck. Remember Amish families are quite large, so one woman wouldn’t try to cook the entire thing.
  • Families do get together. They usually live close to one another, see each other often, and eat together for holiday meals.
  • There will be lots of youngsters. I mean a lot. The average Amish family has 8-10 children, and each of those grow up and marry and have 8-10 children. One sweet Amish woman I met told me she had 42 grandchildren!
  • There will be games. The Amish love to play games–everything from Checkers to Dutch Blitz to Jenga to board games.
  • Amish folks like to be outside, so you’re likely to see them playing baseball or jumping on the trampoline. It’s also common to find them fishing and hunting when they have a day off.
  • And remember, there’s no television. Chances are you won’t find men sitting around watching a football game, though you still might find them asleep in their recliner.

One of the reasons that I like to write about the Amish is that it reminds me to simplify my life, to pay more attention to the people around me, and to focus on my faith. I hope that this holiday season you are able to do the same.

Blessings,

V

Announcements for this week:

  • Quite a few of my books are currently on sale in both paperback and ebook. You can visit my author page at Amazon, B&N, and CBD for details.
  • I’ve put out a call for my 2017 Street Team. If you missed the announcement in my newsletter, you can access the form to apply here.
  • I’m giving away 5 Christmas packages. Interested? Check out the details here.
  • An Amish Harvest once again earned a place on the ECPA bestseller list. This is the 3rd month in a row, and I so appreciate my co-authors and the work they put into this collection of stories.

Do Amish Vote

Amish facts/history, Amish view

img_4211I’m often asked if the Amish cast a vote in local and national elections. Since I wasn’t sure, I asked some Amish folk when I was visiting northern Indiana. Their answer was typically brief, “Some do.”

When I pressed the point, the person told me that largely it will depend on the community that you live in. Some bishops encourage participation. Others suggest that they remain apart and not involve themselves in politics. It is never forbidden to vote.

What impressed me was when an Amish woman admitted, “We may vote, but we don’t sit around and watch the news or read the paper worrying over the outcome. We leave that to God.”

I don’t know about you, but I could do with a little less news watching myself.

Blessings,

V

Announcements for this week:

Free Ebook Short Story

Christian fiction, free novella, The Remnant Series

overshadowedI kind of like free things. I mean, they are free. So they’re fun! And this one is especially fun because I wrote it for you!

Overshadowed is the prequel to Deep Shadows. That means the action in the story happens BEFORE the opening pages of Deep Shadows. You get to read about the events that lead up to the dramatic event that Shelby and Max and Carter must find their way through.

I really enjoyed this story. It takes place in San Antonio and Hondo, Texas. If you’ve never been to either, come on down and visit.

It’s a story of faith and family, community and the importance of caring for one another. And did I mention it’s free? I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s 51 pages long, and you can read it on your e-reader, phone, or computer.

*** Amazon *** B&N ***

Blessings,

V

Announcements for this week:

  • My Fall Rafflecopter giveaway is live tomorrow. This month’s package includes an authentic Amish doll dress. Details and entry form are on my main webpage, so stop by and check it out!
  • Anna’s Healing, the first full length book in the series and a Christy Award finalist, is still on sale for $2.99 at Amazon (ebook).
  • Anna’s Healing will soon be available in large print. So if you prefer large print books, pass this along to your local library and ask them to purchase it.
  • All 3 books in my Pebble Creek series are on sale for only $3.99 each this month. Book 1 is A Promise for Miriam, and it’s a sweet, fun, exciting Amish story.

The Story Behind the Story

Amish adoption, Amish facts/history, Amish fiction, plainmiracles

plain-simple-3My newest release, Sarah’s Orphans, is about a young Amish girl who is abandoned by her mother, left to raise her siblings, and then finds two homeless children. Today I thought I’d share the “story behind the story.”

  • I started out with this question. As Christians, are we still responsible for caring for orphans? I mean there are a lot more government/charity programs than there were in Jesus’s day. Orphanages in the US are rare, and there are long waiting lists for parents seeking children to adopt.
  • I spent a lot of time on the national and state websites for adoption. One thing I learned is that currently there are 400,000 children living in the U.S. without permanent families. Of those 100,000 are eligible for adoption.
  • Of course we can’t all adopt a child right now, for various reasons–health, economics, etc. So how can we help?codys-creek-collage
  • I also learned that the Amish have adopted in the past. Here is a great story of adoption within their faith, and here is another describing adoption outside of their religion in the past.
  • Of course I visited Cody’s Creak (which is actually Chouteau, Oklahoma), and had a wonderful time talking to the Amish and taking pictures.

The children in this story really won my heart! Of course it’s not an easy path to blend two families together, but my goal was to show that God can use each of us in a special way, and we can all find a small way to minister to others.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any questions about Sarah’s Orphans?

Blessings,

V

Announcements for this week:

  • Anna’s Healing, the first full length book in the series and a Christy Award finalist, is still on sale for $2.99 at Amazon (ebook).
  • Anna’s Healing will soon be available in large print. So if you prefer large print books, pass this along to your local library and ask them to purchase it.
  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD. And the price has stayed below $9 for most vendors, so get your copy today! CBD is offering the print book for 47% off — only $7.99
  • I will be at the Jewett Quilt show next weekend. If you’re in the Waco, Texas area, stop by and say hello. I’ll also have autographed copies of all of my newest releases for sale.
  • Also, my Fall Rafflecopter giveaway will be live tomorrow, and I think you’re going to love this month’s Prize Package. Details and entry form will be on my main webpage tomorrow, so stop by and check us out!

5 Ways to UnPlug

Amish fiction, Christian living

So I tried an experiment last week. I unplugged. Completely. I didn’t check my email, or log into Facebook. I didn’t tweet, and I didn’t post pictures to Instagram. Wow!!! This was a big step for me. (I did pre-post some things to Facebook and Twitter, so you know…no one would forget me.)

Have you ever done this? It was eye-opening for me. I had reached the point where I was “checking things” constantly. Even late at night, or first thing in the morning. I learned some awesome things:

  • The world doesn’t end when I don’t read the news
  • My head got quieter, like, there was peace and quiet in there
  • I had to talk to people when I was in line at the store
  • At first I kept reaching for my phone, and then I’d realize that I didn’t need to touch it if it didn’t ring!
  • I spent more time with friends, family, and my pets, and I was more “present” while I was with them.

Now I’m not saying that any of these things are bad, but for me the habit was out of control. So how can you unplug? It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal. You could just reduce if you feel it’s overwhelming you. But where do you start?

  1. Make the decision to only check your e-mail once a day. If anyone needs me urgently, they’ll call.
  2. Go on to Facebook once a day and scan quickly. You don’t have to read/like/comment on every post. Just tag in and out.
  3. If you TWEET or INSTAGRAM, you don’t have to do that every day either. Every meal doesn’t have to be shared. You don’t have to take a selfie at every event. It’s actually kind of nice to keep some things private.
  4. It’ll only feel strange for the first few days.
  5. Spend the time you would be on-line doing something else–pet your dog, work on the craft project you abandoned, finish a book in your TBR pile. Do the things you like to do.

So how about you? Have you ever tried to unplug? Why or why not? And what was the result? There’s a comment button next to the title of this blog. If you’re receiving it in email, just click on the link and then look next to the title. I’d love to hear from you!

Amish Harvest pre-order promo_FINALAnnouncements for this week:

  • Brian’s Choice is on sale for 99 cents. This is a lovely 76 page novella that introduces my Plain & Simple Miracles series.
  • Anna’s Healing, the first full length book in the series and a Christy Award finalist, is on sale for $2.99.
  • An Amish Harvest will release in 6 days, and my publisher is offering a TREAT BOX to the first 100 readers who pre-order.
  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD. And the price has stayed below $9 for most vendors, so get your copy today!

Also, my Rafflecopter giveaway is live, and I think you’re going to love this month’s Prize Package. Details on my main webpage, so stop by and check us out!

Blessings,

Vannetta

Summer Blues

Amish fiction, Texas, the Remnant
Phoebe with a new toy

Phoebe with a new toy

Actually summer in Texas isn’t blue, it’s RED HOT! I now avoid the weather app, because I know what it’s going to say. 100+ for the next 15 days. ((sigh)) I realize the heat isn’t limited to Texas. I read it was 100 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska last week. Wow!

So do you get the summer blues? I’m noticing that people around me are acting a bit sluggish. Maybe we’re all conserving our energy. Always, when the weather turns to blazing hot, I remember this verse from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verse 1.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

When I was a child, with no a/c in our house, summertime was a time to read, work on jigsaw puzzles, and if we had a chance play in the water hose. Not a lot has changed since then. We have a/c, but I still use summer to read, and if I can get away with it I play in the water hose. My dogs love that!

If you find yourself feeling a bit blue, tired, or under the weather, just remember that there’s a time for every season … and we’ll be laughing about this in September.

How do YOU spend hot, summer days? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you and your comment could encourage someone else!

Amish Harvest pre-order promo_FINALAnnouncements for this week:

  • An Amish Harvest will release soon, and my publisher is offering a TREAT BOX to the first 100 readers who pre-order.
  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD. And the price has stayed below $9 for most vendors, so get your copy today!
  • The giveaway at Chat with Vera will last through 8-9. Leave a comment on the blog to be entered to win a copy of Deep Shadows.
  • My publisher is also giving away a copy of Deep Shadows. You can enter here and read about what Deep Shadows and Amish fiction have in common.

Our winner for last week’s blog was Linda P. I’ve sent her an email, so if you’re Linda P. be sure and check your email! Also, I’m going to take a little rest from giving away books here, but I’ll continued to offer a Rafflecopter giveaway once a month on my main webpage, so stop by and check us out!

Blessings,

Vannetta

Can I Get an Amen?

Christian fiction, Christian living, inspiration, Living in Grace

bf9e48c1faeaa2ca0825714b371fc8b4World events have a way of darkening our outlook on life. Such tragedy and pain and hopelessness. But it occurs to me that as Christians we represent the opposite of those things. We stand for victory and healing and hope. So I thought this week I’d take a moment to share some of the verses that help me during dark times.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. ~Luke 6:38

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. ~Colossians 3:15

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. ~Psalm 56:3

Want more verses about dealing with fear and anxiety? There’s a good list here. Especially during dark times, we need to encourage and lift up one another. So how about it? What verse would you like to share? Leave a comment with your fav verse or an encouraging comment and you’ll be entered to win one of my Pebble Creek stories. Our winner last week was Rory, and I’ve already sent her an email.

Announcements for this week: 

  • Hidden hit #1 in its categories last week. It’s still on sale for 99 cents in ebook format at Amazon and B&N.
  • If you’re in the Dallas, TX area, I’ll be speaking at the Irving libraries Mysterious Ways Author Panel on Sunday afternoon. Details here.
  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD. And the price has stayed below $9 for most vendors, so get your copy today!
  • The giveaway at Inkslinger’s Blog will last through 7-23. Leave a comment on the blog to be entered. Plus you can read about 24 hours in the life of a romance author. Who wouldn’t want to read that? It’s RIVETING. :)
  • My JULY Rafflectoper giveaway is live. I’m so excited about giving away the wall hanging, which would look perfect in a child or grandchild’s room. Click here and scan down the page to enter.

Blessings,

Vannetta

One Last Q&A

Christian authors, Christian fiction

I’ve been answering your questions the last few weeks on my blog, so I thought I’d finish that up today. Remember: every week I give away a book, so leave a comment below and your name will be entered to win a copy of one of my mysteries (your choice).

 

Patricia didn’t actually ask a question, but she left a comment about being a cancer survivor and reading and taking my books to her oncologist’s office. Thank you so much for commenting, Patricia, and I’m glad the books were a blessing to you.

Meg asked, “Are you planning on writing any more in the mystery series?” No. Both of my current series are complete at 3 books each, BUT … I am putting finishing touches on What The Bishop Saw, which introduces a new series titled The Amish Bishop Mystery Series. Book one will release in May of 2017.

Marilyn asked, “What drew you to write Amish series and then change to mysteries? I love the Plain and Simple Miracle series.” Actually I was writing Amish romances for one publisher, when another publisher (Harper Collins) asked me to write Amish mysteries. I said SURE! I’m so glad you enjoyed books 1 and 2 in the Plain and Simple Miracles series. Book 3, Sarah’s Orphans, will release on August 30th. Also, you might check out my Pebble Creek series, which is in the same genre.

july rafflecopterThat wraps up our Q&A time. I hope everyone is having a great summer, and remember to leave a comment to be entered in this week’s giveaway. This week’s question: What types of things do you do when it’s too hot to go outside? (It’s too hot to go outside in Texas. Trust me.) PS- Last week’s winner was Tiffany, and I’ve sent her a email.

Announcements for this week: 

  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD. And the price has stayed below $9 for most vendors, so get your copy today!
  • The giveaway at Inkslinger’s Blog will last through 7-23. Leave a comment on the blog to be entered. Plus you can read about 24 hours in the life of a romance author. Who wouldn’t want to read that? It’s RIVETING. :)
  • Baker Kella is offering a giveaway of Deep Shadow that runs through the end of this week.
  • My JULY Rafflectoper giveaway is live. I’m so excited about giving away the wall hanging, which would look perfect in a child or grandchild’s room. Click here and scan down the page to enter.

Blessings,

Vannetta

Another Q&A post

Christian fiction, the Remnant

Deep Shadows smBefore we get to your questions, I wanted to let you know that my new release, Deep Shadows, is now available where ever books are sold. I’m so excited! Reviews have been great, and I’m thrilled that readers are connecting with this story. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, the price is still below $10 for most vendors, in both ebook and print. Now to your questions–

Betty asked, “What inspired you to write Deep Shadows? Will there be a sequel? Do you outline?” I actually read a news story where NASA had presented a study on solar flares to Congress, and that captured my imagination. There will be 2 more books in the series, and there will be a free prequel (ebook only) releasing on October 1. I do not outline, though sometimes I think life would be easier if I did.

Gail and Jackie asked, “Do you ever sell any of your handmade quilted items?” No. I’m really a beginner. Some of the things I’ve done look nice in a picture, but when you look at the stitching–it’s something of a mess! I’m enjoying learning though, and I love being able to give some things away.

Juanita asked, “Have you always wanted to write books?” No. I’ve always loved to read, but I didn’t want to write until after I finished my master’s degree in English. I had to write a lot for that program, and I decided then that it was something I loved to do.

IMG_4758-2Roberta asked, “Was it a coaster you quilted?” Actually it was a mini-quilt, and I had a lot of fun making it! I’ve included a pic so you can see the colors, though this was before I finished it.

Alice asked, “Do you have children? Also, how about writing a book about camping out adult-style?” We do have children–my husband had 3 when I met him and I had 1. It’s funny that you bring up a camping mystery. I’ve actually sent in a proposal for that very thing. If you camp awhile, you find there are some strange people out there! I think it would be a real hoot, but the publisher hasn’t decided to go with that series–yet.

 

IMG_4954

Last week’s prize, fabric panel and a copy of An Amish Market

I think I’ll keep doing Q&A for the rest of the month, or until your questions run out. If you haven’t sent in a question and have one, just leave a comment. Also, if you’ll leave a comment today, you’ll be entered to win a Surprise Summer Package. Just answer What’s your favorite thing to do in the summertime?

PS- Last week’s winner was KHSmith, and I’ve sent her a email.

Announcements for this week: 

  • Deep Shadows is now available in print and ebook. **Amazon ** B&N ** CBD.
  • I’m visiting Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden blog. She’s giving away a copy of Deep Shadows. The giveaway ends this week.
  • You can win a print or ebook copy of Deep Shadows at WordyNerdyBlog. Plus they have some funny pics of me, so go check it out.
  • We’re talking about HEROES over on Just Commonly, and they’re also running a giveaway of Deep Shadows.

Thanks for stopping by and remember to comment with your fav thing of summer to be entered to win our Surprise Summer Package!

Blessings,

Vannetta